Traffic Tickets in Idaho
Some of us know the horrible sensation that comes over you the moment you see the flashing lights of a police officer's patrol car in your rearview mirror. No matter if you are in Idaho, another state, or even Canada, if the officer gives you a ticket, a citation for violating a traffic law, the Idaho Transportation Department's Driver Services Section will be informed and add the moving violation to your driving record.
If you get a "uniform citation" (traffic ticket) in Idaho, you will deal with the magistrate division of the district court. How you deal with the ticket depends on the nature of the offense; infractions and misdemeanors are treated differently by the state rules.
Both offenses require you to sign the bottom of the ticket, indicating that you promise to appear in court. Signing does not mean that you are pleading guilty; it's just an acknowledgment. If you refuse to sign, then the officer can serve you the ticket by personal delivery.
Misdemeanors are typically handled in court in the county where you received the ticket. You can ask for an arraignment elsewhere (perhaps in a county closer), if that is more convenient. Although the officer who gave you the ticket must approve or deny your request, he or she will most likely grant it. However, if you go to court in another county and plead not guilty, you may find the case returned to the court in the county where the violation occurred.
The officer who gave you the ticket files it with the court listed on the citation. This is where you are expected to appear if you have not made previous arrangements to go to court elsewhere.
If you do not show in the place and time indicated, then you can pick up a warrant for your arrest issued by the magistrate you were scheduled to see. Should you be served with this warrant, you could land in jail if you cannot post the bond set by the magistrate judge.
Pleading guilty to your misdemeanor traffic ticket sometimes means you have to go to trial before a judge or jury. But don't fret, this scenario is common and often informal if you do not involve an attorney when you go before a judge.
Anytime you go to trial before a jury, you will find that the state will be represented by a prosecuting attorney. In this case, you can hire an attorney to represent you, but it is not required.
Once the judge gives you a penalty, you are in the custody of the court until you shell out the money to cover any fines and court costs. If you refuse to pay, even though you have the money, you may find yourself in jail, paying a daily fine until you pay your fines and court costs. Most likely the court will allow you to do community service instead of paying the fines.
The state does not consider these minor traffic offenses crimes, but civic public offenses.
Because the Idaho Supreme Court has created a fixed penalty schedule for infraction violations, no court can increase, decrease, suspend, or withhold any such penalty. Instead, penalties are fines, more than anything. And because the fixed penalty is not a criminal fine, the court cannot assign jail time or set a bond.
The state views an infraction as a civil offense, so if you don't show up in court, the court cannot prosecute you for a misdemeanor for not appearing. But it can enter default judgment against you, just as it would with any other civil action. (The civil nature of an infraction does not entitle you to a trial by jury.)
You can admit to committing the infraction, pay the fixed penalty at the courthouse or by mailing the payment to the court clerk, and go on with your life. Or you can deny charges and state your case in a court trial.
Let's say you decide to fight it and the court finds you guilty. The court will notify you to pay the fixed penalty. The same occurs if you simply decide to not show up. Failure to pay the penalty will allow the Department of Transportation to suspend your driver's license.
If you live outside of state lines, the department can request that your state suspend your license. As soon as you appear in court and pay up, the department will reinstate your license.
Here is how points are assigned for moving violations, according to Idaho Code. The statute violated is listed along with the section where it may be found in the State Statutes.
- Starting a parked vehicle (Code 49-603): 2 points
- Limitation on backing (Code 49-604): 1 point
- Drivers to exercise due care (Code 49-615): 3 points
- Driving through safety zone prohibited (Code 49-616): 2 points
- Operation of vehicles on approach of authorized emergency police vehicles (Code 49-625): 3 points
- Drive on right side of roadway―exceptions (Code 49-630): 3 points
- Passing vehicles proceeding in opposite directions (Code 49-631): 2 points
- Overtaking a vehicle on the left (Code 49-632): 3 points
- When passing on right is permitted (Code 49-633): 2 points
- Limitations on overtaking on the left (Code 49-634): 3 points
- Further limitations on driving on the left of the center of a highway (Code 49-635): 3 points
- One-way highways (Code 49-636): 1 point
- Driving on highways laned for traffic (Code 49-637): 1 point
- Following too closely (Code 49-638): 3 points
- Vehicle approaching or entering unmarked/uncontrolled intersection (Code 49-640): 3 points
- Vehicle turning left (Code 49-641): 3 points
- Vehicle entering highway (Code 49-642): 3 points
- Required position and method of turning (Code 49-644): 3 points
- Limitations on turning around (Code 49-645): 3 points
- Obedience to a signal indicating the approach of a train (Code 49-648): 4 points
- Compliance with stopping requirements at all railroad grades (Code 49-649): 4 points
- Emergence with stopping requirements at all emerging from an alley, driveway, or building (Code 49-651): 3 points
- Basic rule and maximum speed limits* (Code 49-654): 3 points or 4 points
- Minimum speed regulation (Code 49-655): 3 points
- Special speed limitations* (Code 49-656): 3 points or 4 points
- Construction danger zone speed limits (Code 49-657): 3 points
- Pedestrian's Right-of-way in a crosswalk (Code 49-702): 3 points
- Obedience to and required traffic control devices (Code 49-801): 3 points
- Traffic control signal legend (Code 49-802): 3 points
- Flashing signals (Code 49-804): 3 points
- Stop signs (Code 49-807(2)): 3 points
- Failure to yield―signed intersection (Code 49-807(3)): 3 points
- Turning movement and required signals (Code 49-808): 3 points
- Duty to give information in accident involving damage to a vehicle (Code 49-1302): 4 points
- Duty upon striking unattended vehicle (Code 49-1303): 4 points
- Duty upon striking fixtures upon, or adjacent to, a highway (Code 49-1304): 4 points
- Inattentive driving (Code 49-1401(3)): 3 points
- Obedience to traffic direction (Code 49-1419): 2 points
- Driving on divided highways (Code 49-1421(1)): 1 point
- Restricted access (Code 49-1421(2)): 1 point
- Overtaking and passing a school bus (Code 49-1422): 4 points
- Racing on public highways (Code 49-1424): 4 points
*If you go over the speed limit by 1 to 15 MPH, you'll get 3 points. If you go 16 MPH over, then you are looking at 4 points.Other Topics in This Section